Wrapping up the Teaching Artists as Substitutes Initiative (TASI)

Starting in 2020, Arts Ed Collaborative (AEC) began exploring what it would take to set up teaching artists to work as substitute teachers and bring their artistry into schools. Why were we interested in this? We had four goals in mind: 

  • Increasing equitable access to arts learning during the school day 
  • Mitigating substitute teacher shortages 
  • Fostering stability within the teaching artist profession 
  • Diversifying the teacher workforce 

With support from The Grable Foundation, we embarked on a journey to determine if there was a viable path for teaching artists to work as substitute teachers. Adopting the “nothing about us without us” rallying call, our first step was to hire a team of six teaching artists to work alongside AEC staff as part of an action research team. Together, we developed a set of data collection protocols, reached out to school and district personnel, and identified a set of recommendations for how to move forward (scroll down to check out our TASI playbook!).  

Our friends at Hampton Township School District introduced us to the Pennsylvania Guest Substitute Teacher Program and Allice Gillenberger from the Allegheny Intermediate Unit and this work gained more momentum. Next we hired an amazing group of teaching artists to work alongside AEC as part of an action research team. With a plan in hand, we hosted info sessions and then a training for interested teaching artists. Simultaneously, we engaged our arts partners to offer arts integration professional learning workshops and to contribute lesson plans to a field guide for teaching artists taking on this work.  

We did not know where this work would lead when we began. Along the way, we identified a viable path for teaching artists to work as substitute teachers in Southwestern Pennsylvania and share their gifts with more students. This work would not have been possible without the following contributors.  

Funder: The Grable Foundation | Action research team: Jazmine Bailey, Emily Gallagher, Parag Gohel, Sarah Jackson, Akinlana Lowman, and Lindsay Woge | PA Guest Substitute Teacher Program expert: Alice Gillenberger (Allegheny Intermediate Unit) | Schools/Districts: Duquesne City, Hampton Township, Sto-Rox, Urban Academy of Greater Pittsburgh Charter School, Woodland Hills | Field guide contributors: Assemble, Attack Theatre, Emily Gallagher, Alumni Theater Company, Akinlana Lowman, Parag Gohel, Shannon Gallagher, and James Brown | Arts integration workshop leaders: Akinlana Lowman, Hope Anthony + Allison Popieski (Attack Theatre), Emily Gallagher, and Parag Gohel 

Interested in learning more? Check out our TASI playbook and let us know what you think!